Lawyers representing Sarah Palin in her unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against The New York Times have told a federal judge that they plan to ask for a new trial and will file several other motions seeking to scrutinize the timing of his announcement that he intended to dismiss the case for lack of evidence if a verdict favored Ms. Palin. His statement arrived while the jury was still deliberating last week.
The decision by Judge Jed S. Rakoff — which was consistent with the verdict the jury arrived at the next day, holding that The Times was not liable for publishing and later correcting an editorial that erroneously linked the political rhetoric of Ms. Palin to a mass shooting — was the subject of a brief conference call on Wednesday between the judge and lawyers for both sides.
Judge Rakoff said Ms. Palin’s requests amounted to “five interesting motions,” including one that he be retroactively disqualified from the case. Another would allow her lawyers to interview the jurors, several of whom learned of his decision from push notifications they received on their phones while deliberating. In an order last week, Judge Rakoff said several jurors had told the court’s law clerk that the notifications “had not affected them in any way or played any role whatever in their deliberations.”
The judge said he would review the motions once they had been filed. The motions would become part of the record should Ms. Palin appeal, which she is expected to do. Judge Rakoff also said he would expedite writing his decision outlining why he agreed to dismiss the case. He expects that to be ready by March 1.
Another of Ms. Palin’s motions sought to reveal what, if any, communications Judge Rakoff had with the news media during the trial — an insinuation he appeared irritated by.
“I had zero communications with media during the trial,” he said. “None whatsoever.” He explained that while he had responded to a reporter’s urgent phone message after the verdict — which turned out to be about the push notifications — he had not communicated with the media at all while the trial was ongoing.